Category Archives: Hockey News

Williston Drops Two, Wins One

Last Friday, the Winchendon Wapitis came to town and Williston was up to the task for two solid periods playing shut out hockey.  However, in the third, Winchendon broke open the scoring on a 5×4 off a faceoff. Williston answered the call three minutes later when Jack Purcell let a shot go that beat Max Caouette with assists going to Matt Pimental and Brendan Nehmer.  However, with just over two minutes left in the game, Winchendon got a puck in the slot that beat Williston’s Kyler Breland.  Williston ended up taking a penalty with 1:40 remaining, and, interestingly, had some of their best opportunities of the game getting robbed twice by Caouette and hitting the post once.  Shots were Williston 42-Winchendon 24.  The Wildcats played some of their most determined hockey of the year but just came up short.

The next day, Williston traveled to Sheffield, MA for a rematch of last Saturday’s soiree with the Berkshire Bears.  Williston looked to avenge the previous week’s loss, but after going down 6-0, the Wildcats were put into a hole that they just could not climb out of.  While Williston tried their best and played a very solid third period, they could not avenge the six goals they spotted the Bears and ended up losing 6-3.  Goal scorers were Tim Rego (Mitchell Hansen), David Novotny (unassisted), and Tim Rego (Cam Mariani.)

On Wednesday, Williston traveled to the Green Mountain State to take on the Vermont Academy Wildcats looking to get back into the win column.  While Williston struggled to pull away in the first two periods, in the third they did just that, winning 6-3.

Vermont got on the board early in the game on a defensive breakdown leaving a Vermont player all alone in the front of the net.  He beat Kyler Breland cleanly.  However, with just under a minute remaining in the period, James Belleavoine came streaking down the right wall in the zone, put a shot on net that was saved but then buried home by a fortuitous Hunter Sarro who charged the net like former Rochester Red Wing Cal Ripkin stealing home plate at the old Silver Stadium on Norton Street.  Williston was happy to go into the break tied.

In the second, Jack Purcell got a goal when Brendan Barrett cruised down the left wing and let a shot ride from the dot.  The VA goalie made the save but Jack Purcell skated like the Chicago wind and buried a rebound to go up, 2-1.  Vermont scored again to tie it up, but just minutes later, Tim Rego headed into the Vermont zone on a 2-1.  He made a sweet pass to Brendan Nehmer who missed the net but Rego drove behind, corralled the puck and tucked it past the goaltender.  Sloppy play led to Vermont tying the game, 3-3 heading into the dressing room.

In the third, Williston started to put things together, first when Tommy Harty won the faceoff to Mitchell Hansen who quickly moved the puck to Rego.  The senior defensemen cranked down the left side of the ice and ripped a shot top-cheddar to go up, 4-3 just :13 seconds into the frame and on the power play.  Then, Matt Pimental took a puck from the left corner, drove the net and let a backhand rip that looked like it was shot from a sand wedge going top corner.  Brandon Barrett got his second helper of the day.  Finally, Cam Mariani scored an empty net goal from Alex Berg to seal the deal, 6-3.

Williston outshot Vermont 40-15 as Kyler Breland got the win.

Yesterday, the Wildcats enjoyed the first pond skate of the year playing shinny hockey with the coaching staff and their kids, Gus, Ryan, and Will.  There was something beautiful about making the first tracks of the year on black ice that warmed this writer’s soul.  Hopefully it will lead to some magic for the players as we push to make the playoffs.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, the ‘Cats head to Gunnery for a 4:30 tilt.  Check the twitter for updates.

Williston Dropped by Bears, Climb the Mountain Versus the Hilltoppers

On Saturday, Williston looked to rebound against the Berkshire Bears after a two-game losing streak that ended 2018.  With a number of alumni on hand, the Wildcats looked to impress; unfortunately, it was not to be as Williston dropped the contest, 5-3.  Twenty minutes in penalties did not help the cause.

Williston jumped out on top at the midpoint of the first period.  Brendan Nehmer took a pass on the half-wall and sprinted up the ice on the right side with Cam Mariani and James Belleavoine jumping into the rush with the speed and energy of Irondequoit Creek in the April thaws of Upstate New York.  As Nehmer crossed into the zone, he dropped the puck to a waiting Belleavoine who let a shot go from the far hash marks.  A fortuitous Mariani darted at the net and was able to get a stick on the puck beating Berkshire post-graduate goalie, Kenny Burgess.  Williston would hold the lead for the remainder of the period.

In the second, Berkshire got two goals, both on the power play to put the Bears up 2-1.  The lead would hold for three minutes when, on a power play of their own, Williston tied the game at two.  Tommy Harty took a puck in the left corner of the Berkshire zone and passed to David Novotny at the point.  David worked the puck back to Harty who curled around the top of the circle and let a shot fly that was deflected onto Jake Sacratini’s stick on the high left post.  Seeing an opportunity, Novotny cruised into the slot, took a pass from Sacratini and let a backhander rip from the mid-slot that beat Burgess between the pads.  While no panes of glass were trembling at the ferocity of the shot, it was good enough to tie the game.  The tie would only last for a little over three minutes when Berkshire scored with just 23 seconds left in the period to go up 3-2.

In the third, Cam Mariani tied the game with a blast from just inside the blue line that went in the top right corner (Belleavoine and Novotny with the assists) but Berkshire was too much, scoring two more goals to seal the win.

Shots in the game were 27 for Williston, while Tyler Breland faced 30.

On Wednesday, the Worcester Hilltoppers came to Lossone.  Last year, the Wildcats were losing to Worcester, 1-0 going into the third only to pull out a 4-1 win.  This year was a different story as Williston beat Worcester 14-3.  Notable efforts for the afternoon were Jake Sacratini (3g, 1a), Hunter Sarro (2g, 2a), David Novotny (2g, 2a), Brendan Nehmer (1g, 2a), and Tommy Harty (3a).  Trevor Corsello got the win.  Williston outshot Worcester, 42-16.

This is a big weekend for the Wildcats.  On Friday night, Winchendon comes to town for a 5:30 game.  Williston defeated the Wapitis 7-1 at the St. Sebastian’s Tournament in December so look for the Green and Black to come out with vengeance.  Then on Saturday, Williston looks to even up the season series with Berkshire in Sheffield, MA at 4:30.  We hope to see you tonight!

 

Arrows, Bulldogs, Down Wildcats

There’s a scene in The Big Lebowski when The Dude sits down next to an old grizzled cowboy at the bowling alley bar.  As The Dude laments his misfortunes, the cowboy, played by Sam Elliot, finally remarks: “Well, a wiser fellar than mahself once said “Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.””  With his Southwestern drawl, the deity-like cowboy pronounces “bear” as “bar.”  Last year, Williston ate the “bar”, coming from three goals behind to win in overtime, 4-3.  Today, the Williston Wildcats were unfortunately on the receiving end of the “bar,” going down 6-0 and eventually losing 8-3 to St. Sebastians.

While I readily admit the following cliché, the game was not an 8-3 game; fortuitous bounces for St. Sebastians that included a puck ricocheting off a stanchion on a Williston powerplay only to end up on the stick of Sebs penalty killer who took off on a 2-1 and scored; to a shot from the point that was deflected and popped up eight feet in the air and bounced over Kyler Breland’s head and into the net; to a potential 3 on 1 for Williston only to have David Novotny blow a wheel and careen to the ice, losing the possession, the puck-luck needed to beat a very powerful offensive and defensive opponent—that boasts currently seven Division I prospects with more on the way—was not there when the Wildcats needed it.

St. Sebastians took a commanding 6-0 lead through the first period and half of the game through the work of savvy offensive skill and a defensive juggernaut that was difficult for Williston to solve.    In the second, Williston was able to get on the board when, in the offensive zone, Matt Pimental won the draw cleanly to Jack Purcell who let a quick shot go that was saved off the right pad and bounced onto sophomore Brandon Barrett’s stick; Barrett buried the rebound for the first goal of his Williston career.

Then, two minutes later at the 17:19 mark of the period and on the power play, Brendan Nehmer took a puck near the top right point and let a shot go that hit a Sebs player and bounced over the shoulder of a shocked Luke Garrity.  Williston looked like they might have some life to them heading into the third period.

Unfortunately, any hope was shot down as St. Sebastian’s Tommy Lyons drove to the net with two players draped on him and was still able to get the toe of his stick on the puck and sneak a shot past Breland.

Brendan Nehmer got his second goal of the game cutting the lead to 7-3 (Novotny and Sacratini with the assists) but Sebs got its eight goal a little over a minute later.  Trevor Costello went in and made some clutch saves down the stretch, but Williston could never get back into it.

Shots for the game were 24 for Williston and 38 for Sebs (31 on Breland and 7 for Costello.)

On Saturday, Williston played Nobles in a rematch of last year where Williston took the game 3-2.  This year would be different for the ‘Cats as they would drop the match-up, 5-1.

Nobles got on the board early in the game on a powerplay. Williston would answer a few minutes later when Shaul Mitton got a pass from Tommy Harty on the break-out.  Mitton cruised down the right boards and beat Nobles goalie Marc Smith to tie the game at one.  Nobles would score the next four goals, one more in the first period and three in the second.  Williston worked hard in the third to cut the lead but to no avail.

Shots in the game were 29-18 in favor of Nobles.

Williston returns to school on Wednesday and takes on the Berkshire Bears at home on Saturday at 4.30.  The Williston co-ed alumni game takes place at 12.30 that day so let the alumni office know if you will be making the trip in for the game.

Williston Comes from Behind; Ties Brunswick

They say that a tie is like kissing your sister, however, with Williston trailing the Brunswick Bruins with eighteen minutes remaining in the game, it was more like kissin’ the gal next door.  Williston was down 4-2 with a period remaining when clutch play by the Wildcats tied the game with eleven minutes remaining.  Five minutes of overtime could not solve the tie and Williston would head into the Christmas Holiday, 3-5-1.

Williston got on the board early in the first half when, off a faceoff on the left side in the offensive zone, Brendan Nehmer won a draw back to the pride of Pittsford, NY, Zac Gmerek, who put the puck deep into the corner.  Winger David Novotny retreated from the front of the net, picked up the puck and shoveled a quick pass to a waiting Jake Sacratini who was three feet off the left post and snuck a quick redirect that found a hole through the Brunswick goalie, Dan Dachille.  Brunswick would answer on the power play nine minutes later.

Shaul Mitton made it a 2-1 game when he busted down the right side of the ice, crossed over the Bruin blueline and let a wrist shot fly from the tops of the circle beating Dachille on the far post.  It was Shaul’s fourth goal of the season at the 13:02 mark of the game. But alas, Brunswick again would respond on the power play three minutes later.  The teams would head in to the dressing room knotted at twos.

Brunswick came out smoking in the second half and went up 4-2.  Williston called a time out with eighteen minutes remaining in the half.  In the short respite, Coach Derek Cunha spoke confidently reminding the team that they still had a period left to score two goals.  If they could get the two, they could win it in overtime.  Rejuvenated, Williston started to claw back when Brunswick chipped a puck to the Williston blueline and changed.  Immediately, Alex Berg retrieved the puck and sent a quick pass to Novotny who was cutting into the Brunswick zone.  Number 10 looked up and let a laser go that beat Dachille over the glove and into the top right corner cutting the lead to one at the 12:27 mark.

Then, under two minutes later, Tyler Varin chipped a puck in to the neutral zone where it ping-ponged between players; finally James Belleavoine corralled it and skated into the Brunswick zone on a two-on-one with Cam Marianni driving toward the net.  Belleavoine floated a pass over the Bruin’s defenseman’s stick and Mariani put just enough sauce on the shot to beat Dachille.

The game would remain tied throughout regulation and into overtime.  Both teams had opportunities but to no avail.  Shots were 27/26 in favor of Brunswick.

Williston is off until the night of December 27th when they will meet up at Nobles for a quick practice and then take on St. Sebastian’s in Needham at 11 am the following day.  Fans will remember that last year, the Wildcats went down 3-0 in the first period only to score four straight to beat the Arrows 4-3 in overtime.  The following day, Williston takes on the number 7-ranked Nobles Bulldogs at noon.  Williston took last year’s game 3-2.

So, from the Williston hockey family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Good Men on Bad Ice Play Rough Hockey

The title for this piece is a stick-tap to John Adams, class of ’64 who spoke to the Williston hockey team in the dressing room before yesterday’s Albany game.  He later sent a picture of his yearbook with this heading.  As the coaching staff read the article, we were amazed at all of the similarities of that team and this year’s club: the Williston’s team’s ice surface (they played on the pond that year—their final season because Lossone was built) gave Coach Carpenter fits; we are playing in a tournament with twenty-five minute halves where near the end of a period looks like a week’s worth of pond hockey on the Erie Canal. They had three returners; we have seven. They had two returning defensemen; and we have two returners. They needed to focus on the defensive zone and let the offense figure itself out; and so do we. They had a brand new goaltender; we have two fresh faces.  The similarities were eerie, but as Coach Cunha talked to the team before the start of the game, he reiterated that nearly 50+ years later, things couldn’t be more similar.  Adams noted in his email what an honor it was to speak to our group and was thankful for the opportunity and so were we.

After the 3-0 loss to Albany last night, the Williston seniors and in particular, our captains, took it upon themselves to figure things out.  They spoke openly and calmly listening to their teammates as they discussed what needed to change.  Whatever was said in the closed-door team-only meeting had a great impression on the entire group because Williston came out today energized and focused taking the 11 am game 7-1 over Winchendon School.

The game started with Williston adhering to their systems and their game plan as they hounded Winchendon in the offensive zone creating turnovers and scoring opportunities.  The first goal came at the 12:28 mark of the period when David Novotny took a puck along his own half wall and made a perfect pass to Brendan Nehmer who skated through the neutral zone, broke into the Winchendon side, cut to his left and let a quick wrister go that beat the Wapiti goalie on the far right post.

Winchendon scored six minutes later on a breakaway that just beat on outstretched Trevor Corsello under his right pad near the post.  Williston responded thirteen seconds later when Mitchell Hansen punched a puck into the left corner to a waiting James Belleavoine who made a move to skate behind the net; he then made a back-diagonal pass to an open Cam Mariani who roofed the puck past the Winchendon’s goalie’s right glove.

Williston got their final of the period when Tim Rego got a pass from Jake Sacratini and blasted a shot that was tipped by Novotny at the 5:41 mark.  The Wildcats went to the dressing room up, 3-1.

In the second half, Williston continued where they left off after the first when Mariani scored his second of the game on the 4×3 power play.  Belleavoine took a shot that hit the post but the rebound came to Mariani in the high slot who buried it past the scrambling Winchendon goalie.  Williston scored their fifth of the game on the power play when Sacratini conjured some Montreal Magic as he drove low around the left side and put a puck that found the back of the net.  Rego and Mariani got the helpers.

Williston got their sixth goal, again on the power play, when Rego let a rocket go that beat Winchendon goalie under his glove.  Nehmer and Mariani were awarded the assists.  Mariani notched a hat trick when, on a 4×3 power play, Belleavoine hit him on the back post where he buried his chance.

The game puck went to Mariani for his five-point performance.  Corsello came up big on a number of occasions making 23 saves.  Williston had 30 shots.  Another impressive stat for the Wildcats was their 26-5 on faceoffs.

Williston will rest for the remainder of the day and take on the Brunswick Bruins tomorrow at 11 am.  Brunswick ended Williston’s playoff run last year in the quarterfinals, 2-0 going on to win the Large School Championship.  We hope to see you at St. Sebs tomorrow!

Williston Tripped Up by Albany

Williston entered the St. Sebastian’s tournament looking to bounce back after a two-game losing streak but it was not to happen tonight.  The Wildcats were unable to mount much of an offense in the fifty-minute game and lost 3-0.  Penalties once again hurt Williston as they were called for four infractions with three coming in the second half of the game.  Albany was able to capitalize on one of their chances.  Williston was on the power play for only two minutes of the game and never really mounted much of an attack. For a team that was looking to take off from their dominant third period against Canterbury on Wednesday afternoon, Williston just didn’t bring it today.  They will have a chance at redemption tomorrow morning at 11 at St. Sebastians when they take on The Winchendon Wapitis who dropped a 5-1 decision to the host school.

Williston Loses to Gunnery, Canterbury

On Saturday, the #13 Gunnery Highlanders dropped by Lossone rink to take on Williston for an evening soiree.  Williston put up a good fight for the first two periods, entering the third period tied at two.  But in the third, Gunnery would get two on-the-crease goals and Williston couldn’t respond.  Gunnery won the game, 4-2

In the first, Shaul Mitton would get the Wildcats on the board at the 10:27 mark when he blocked a shot from the point, drove down the right wing and let a shot go from the right dot beating Gunnery goalie, JP Mella.  The lead only lasted for just under three minutes when Gunnery’s Jimmy Rayhill entered the Williston zone and let a shot go that hit the left post and deflected in; Williston goalie Trevor Corsello was screened on the play and couldn’t make the save.  The teams entered the dressing room after one period, 1-1.

In the second, Gunnery took the lead at the 3:39 mark.  The game would stay like that for over eleven minutes until Williston put a puck deep into the Gunnery zone when a hard-working and tenacious Jack Purcell skated like the Chicago wind, wrestled the puck away from a Gunnery defenseman, and whipped a pass through the crease to junior Matt Pimental who got a stick on the puck and tipped it past Mella.  It was a pretty goal that tied the game.

In the third, below average play in the defensive zone allowed for Gunnery to get two greasy goals to solidify the win.  The winning goalie made 22/24 saves, while Corsello made 33/37 saves.

One Wednesday, the win-less Canterbury Saints came marching into town looking to the heavens for some inspiration and a win.  They got it, taking the matchup, 4-2.

There was no scoring in the first period and while Williston was outshot 11-4, both teams were about even in their play.

In the second, Canterbury took the lead just nine seconds into the period.  They got three more to take a huge 4-0 lead going into the third.

In the third, Williston outright dominated Canterbury, outshooting them 23-2.  A countless number of those shots just missed the twine or slid slowly across the crease and into the corner; pucks just were not just falling for the Wildcats.  Then, at the 11:21 mark, Jack Purcell let a rip go from the right dot on the power play. Assists went to Cam Mariani and James Belleavoine.  Purcell’s energy looked to get the Wildcats going even more as their pressure mounted on Canterbury. Then, captain Tim Rego took a pass from Shaul Mitton in the high slot on a 6×5, wove his way through a myriad of Saints’ players and shuffled off to Buffalo with a nifty backhander at the 16:59 mark of the period.  But that was all Williston would garner in the period.

Williston’s Kyler Breland took the loss saving 20/24 shots while Cal Skwara saved 39/41.

Williston’s effort in the third period was the best of the season and showed that if they can do that for a whole game, they will be tough to play against and beat.

Williston now heads into the holiday break and the St. Sebastian’s tournament.  Last year they entered the tournament 2-2 due to a Gunnery game that was cancelled to snow and the fact that they played Canterbury after New Year’s, so while they are sitting at 2-4, last year at this time they had only garnered two wins so fans should not lose hope.

Williston will leave early Friday afternoon where they will play in the St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament in Needham, MA.  The Wildcats will open the tournament at 4pm against a tough Albany Academy Cadets’ team.  The winner/loser will play the winner/loser of the St. Sebastian’s/Winchendon game the following day.  The rest of the field includes Canadian powerhouse St. Andrews School, New York’s Adirondack prep school, the Northwood School, last year’s Large School Tournament Champion, Brunswick School, and a very strong Rivers School.  See you there!

Williston Loses to Cushing; Beats Academie St. Louis

The Williston Wildcats traveled to Cushing on Wednesday afternoon to do battle with the Penguins at Iorio Arena.  While Williston battled hard, they did not play a full 54-minute game letting lapses in the defensive zone put them on the wrong side of a 4-3 game.

James Belleavoine got the Wildcats on the board in the first period when Shaul Mitton drove down the slot, let a shot go which was saved by Cushing goalie Joe Sharib, a Union recruit; Sharib made the save but Belleavoine was there to drive home a rebound at the 12:50 mark.  Alex Berg got the other helper.

In the second, Cushing tied the game on a power play and then went up at the 13:45 mark of the period.  Mitton would tie the game on the power play when he drove hard to the crease and tipped in a hard pass from d-man Tyler Varin.  Cushing would get another that period but with .03 seconds remaining in the period and with the goalie pulled, Brendan Nehmer put a puck past Sharib off a faceoff to knot the game at threes.

Cushing would take the lead and the game in the third with 5:55 remaining on the power play.  Williston battled, and hit the post two times in the remaining minutes but could not even the score.  Williston played hard and came close but did not play as hard as they needed to in the defensive zone.

Sharib earned the win making 22 saves; Kyler Breland took the loss for Williston making 30 saves.

On Friday night, Quebec City’s Académie St. Louis entered Lossone to take on the Wildcats.  Williston took the cheese in this one, 5-1 bringing them to .500 on the season.

Williston got on the board just 34 seconds into the frame when ASL took a penalty at :07 mark on a hit from behind.  On the power play, off a shot from Jake Sacratini, James Belleavoine put in a hard-fought rebound.  Tim Rego got the other assist.  Then, a little more than two minutes later, Jake Sacratini got his first goal of his Williston career making it 2-0 when he drove hard to the net and caught a pass from Rego and made good on the opportunity.  Tyler Varin also earned his first of the year when he let a shot go from inside the blue that was too much for ASL goalie Emile Savoie.  Assists went to Hunter Sarro and Hunter Wilson.  ASL got off the schneid at the 13:27 mark on an errant play behind the net by two Williston defensemen.  The ‘Cats went into the dressing room after one period up, 3-1.

In the second, Shaul Mitton garnered the fourth Williston goal at the :21 mark of the game when he let a shot go from the slot beating Savoie on the far post.  Tommy Harty and David Novotny earned the assists.  Then at the 13:11 mark, the line earned the Kodak moment of the game when Mitton took the puck at the red line and made a short two-foot pass to Novotny who blazed into the left side of the ASL  zone and then slowed down waiting to hit a trailing Harty in the high slot.  Harty took advantage of the time and space created and buried his first goal of the season.

In the third, Williston worked to maintain the lead and when the buzzer sounded Williston won and the bell would be rung.

Trevor Corsello earned the win saving 16 shots.  Williston outshot Académie St. Louis, 47-17.  The game puck went to Tyler Varin for his first goal and continued consistent and smooth play.

Tonight your Wildcats welcome The Gunnery School Highlanders to Lossone for a 6 o’clock tilt.  If you need a break from shopping and spreading holiday cheer, stop by the ol’ hockey barn for a much-anticipated game!

#1-Salisbury Drops Williston To 1-1

On Saturday evening, the number 1-ranked Salisbury Scarlet Knights entered Lossone Arena and dropped Williston 4-1.  While Williston put up a solid fight in the first period, the eleven current Division I commitments and the rest of their teammates were too much for the Wildcats who appeared to peter out at times during the matchup.

The game started with excellent pace as both teams worked hard to establish early momentum that would hopefully carry their club through the entire fifty-four minutes.  One fan commented early on in disbelief that the game was so hard-hitting and fast.  While Salisbury mounted substantial offense at times, Williston goalie Trevor Corsello was up to the task making many excellent saves.  At the other end, new junior Nicholas Haas was tested early and often as well.  Williston got on the board first at the 7:38 mark of the period when Jake Sacratini was able to break up a Salisbury offensive zone opportunity at the blue line allowing his linemate Cam Mariani to gather the puck and streak in to the Salisbury zone with Brendan Nehmer driving hard to the net.  Forgoing a pass, Mariani let a rip go from the right dot beating Haas far side.  Williston took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room after one period of play.

In the second, penalties and lack-luster efforts by the Wildcats led to three Salisbury goals, including the third on a breakaway by Nick Capone for a short-handed try.  Salisbury went into the second intermission, 3-1.

In the third, Salisbury iced the game at the 2:05 mark when Capone earned his second goal of the game.  Williston battled but Salisbury had too much depth.  Corsello made 25 saves on the day while Haas made 26.

Williston looks to rebound with a three-game week.  On Wednesday,  Williston makes the hour-and-a-half trip to Ashburnham, MA to take on the #5-ranked Penguins of Cushing at 3:30, a team that they have not beaten in many tries.  On Friday, Williston is back home to take on Academie Saint-Louis at 5:30 and then #7 Gunnery on Saturday at 6.  Great seats are still available for both home games and offer a great environment for family and friends.  See you there.

 

Williston Downs Avon for the Second Straight Year

Williston opened the 2018-2019 season in style, beating the #11th ranked Avon Old Farms Winged Beavers on the road, 5-2.  The matchup saw an array of new faces on the ice as graduation and underclassmen defections took its toll on both clubs in the offseason.  On this day, it was the Wildcats who were able to find their identity and take the win.

Avon got on the board first at the 3:53 mark in the first period as forward Tim Heinke took a pass from winger, John Turner, and single-handedly entered the zone, split the Williston defense, and tucked in a nifty goal past new Williston goalie Kyler Breland from Drayton Valley, Alberta.  The lead would not last however.  Fielding a dump-in behind the net, Avon goalie Alex Aslanidis (a Providence recruit) was outworked for a puck by new junior Shaul (pronounced SHOW-el) Mitton of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, who used his big 6’2, 175 frame to disrupt the play, gather the puck and make a pass from behind the left side of the net to returning (and wide open) sophomore David Novotny (Boca Raton, Florida) in the low slot who fired a low shot in the right corner tying the game at 1-1 at the 6:35 mark.

Senior Captain Tim Rego (Mansfield, MA) would break the tie on the power play at the 8:19 mark of the period when Hunter Sarro (North Attleboro, MA) worked hard in the corner for a puck, made a quick pass to Rego at the left point who let a quick rip go beating Aslanidis.  Williston arms went up; Avon heads went down.

The lead was short-lived as Avon tied the game on a goal from John Tuner with assists to Nick Cyprian and Tyler Boucher in a scrum in front of Breland at the 10:50 mark.

Williston would take the lead for good at 16:37 when the pride of Western Mass and post-graduate from Pope Francis, Brendan Nehmer (East Longmeadow, MA) would net the first goal of his career on a shot from the slot that beat Aslanidis over the shoulder. Williston would enter the dressing room at the end of one, 3-2.

The second period was riddled with penalties including 5x3s for both squads.  The first of the two was successfully killed off by an incredibly stingy Williston penalty kill unit.  Within thirty seconds of the final penalty expiring, David Novotny collected a puck at his own blue line and drove down the ice on a 2 on 1 with new junior Tommy Harty (Billerica, MA) streaking toward the goal.  Novotny looked off Harty and blasted a shot past Aslanidis for the fourth Williston goal and his second of the game.  An interesting note is that last year as a freshman, Novotny did not see any time in the Avon game because the coaching staff did not feel he was “ready.”  My, how a year can change things!

In the third period, Williston put the screws to Avon and did not allow any grade-A chances.  Breland saw almost every shot and was up to the task on every Avon opportunity.  You could see the Winged Beavers frustration because they could never get anything going offensively.  Meanwhile, Williston put the final nail in the metaphorical coffin when senior Cam Mariani (Wilbraham, MA) took a pass from newcomer Jake Sacratini out of the left corner and let a low blast go; Aslanidis made a beauty kick save that landed on the stick of Nehmer in the slot who buried the puck into an open net for his second goal, solidifying the win.  Avon had some good opportunities late but could not bury chances.  When zeros hit the scoreboard, Williston took the win, 5-2.

The game puck went to Breland for his stellar play in goal and being the steady pillar the Wildcats needed, making 41 saves on the day.  Aslanidis saved 26 of Williston’s 31 shots.

This year, the Wildcats return only seven players from last year’s playoff-bound club.  Breland’s partner in nets is junior Trevor Corsello from Seldon, NY on Long Island.

Returning on defense with Rego is Alex Berg from Tampa Florida who has picked up where he left off last year as the steady, stalwart defenseman.  Williston fans will notice the name Hansen on the blue line and may wonder if former Williston forward Brendan Hansen shot up six inches over the summer and switched positions.  In fact, Hansen is playing at the University of Colorado at Boulder, while his younger brother Mitchell takes the reigns to live on the family name in Easthampton.  New sophomore defensemen include Hunter Wilson of Westport, CT; Tyler Varin from Smithfield, RI; and Zac Gmerek from the greatest little city east of the Mississippi, Rochester, NY.

At forward, Williston returns five players.  Seniors Cam Mariani, Hunter Sarro, and James Belleavoine (Smithfield, RI) look to carry some of the Williston scoring load this year and already have proven how much a year can change a player, while Sophomores David Novotny and Brandon Barrett (West Palm, FL) look to be contributors as well.  The Williston faithful will also notice a number of new faces on offense this year.  Along with Nehmer, post-grad Jack Purcell of Chicago, Il has already shown his worth with excellent penalty killing and leadership.  The junior class will be well-represented with the likes of not only Mitton, Sacratini, and Harty, but also the workhorse and Portuguese Power, Matt Pimental from East Providence, RI.  Sophomore Richard Stefanik (Whitehouse Station, NJ) rounds out the sophomore class and looks to hone his craft for the Lossone fans.

Behind the scenes of this year’s operation, the team will be in the hands of our willing and capable managers, senior Ethan Bradway (media and tech engineer) and sophomores Oscar Nguyen (hydration and statistics extraordinaire) and Lucas Boyd (sound and hype man).

The Wildcats will be led by 13-year coach, Derek Cunha.  Dave Cunningham will be working with the defense and goalies while Kyle Hanford will try to harness the forwards.

Williston is back in action on Saturday night at 5 o’clock as the Salisbury Scarlet Knights come to town.  Salisbury is a perennial power and is ranked number #1 in New England this year.  Great seats are still available, so bring the family down for an exciting night of hockey.